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Full text of "Mathura A District Memoir"

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142                                     THE visiL&n: OHA'I.
It is now arched over, like the Fleet river in London, and for many years
formed one of the main sewers of the town ; a circumstance which possibly did
not affect the sanctity, but certainly detracted somewhat from the material
purity of this favourite bathing place* It is now being closed, as it was
throught to have contributed not a little to the abnormal sickness which has
lately prevailed in the city.
"Wite reference to this spot a story is told in the Bhakt Mala, of Kesav
Bhatt, one of the most celebrated of the Yaishnava teachers. After spreading
his doctrines through all the chief cities of India and demolishing every
argument that the most learned Pandits could bring against him, he was him-
self unable to reply to the questions put him by Chaitanya, though at the time
a child only seven years of age* Thereupon he abandoned the career of a
controversialist and retired to his native country Kashmir, where he remained
In solitude, absorbed in hnmble and devout meditation, till roused to action
by news of the tyranny that prevailed at Mathura, For the Mohammadans
had set up a diabolical engine at the Yisrant Ghat, which perforce circumcised
every Hindu who went there to bathe. Hearing this, he gathered together
a thousand of his disciples aacl on arriving at Mathiira3 went straight to the
spot, where the Governor's myrmidons set upon him and thought to bring him
too under the yoke of Islam, But he broke the engine in'pieces and threw it
into the river. An army was then sent against him, but not a man of it
escaped ; for he slew the greater number with the sword and the rest were dri-
ven into the Jamuna and drowned.
For this legend it is possible there may be some slight historical foundation ;
the next to be told can at the best be regarded as only a pious fiction. li is
given in the Matimrd Mahatmya, or Religious Chronicle of Mathura, which
is an interpolation on the Yaraha Parana, iiiough of sufficient extent to be
itself divided into 29 sections. After expatiating in the most extravagant
terms on the learning, piety and other virtues of the Mathuriya Chaubes,
and the incomparable sanctity of the city in which they dwell, it briefly
enumerates the twelve Vanas, or woods, that are included in the perambulation
of the land of Braj, and then at greater length describes the principal shrines
•winch the pilgrim is bound to visit in the capital itself. As a rule, no attempt
Is made to explain either the names borne by the different holy places, or the
origin of their reputed sanctity ; but their virtue is attested by the recital oi
pome of the miracles, which have been worked through their supernatural
influence} such as the following :—